The idea that the spiritual life has periods of darkness and light and both are helpful on the spiritual path is well established in the history of Christian literature. I am going to share with you some of the most powerful and insightful comments by notable Christian writers and practitioners of faith. They have uplifted my spirit, enlightened my understanding and brightened my darkness. They will provide light for your dark times.
Charles Spurgeon called the Prince of Preachers noted:
We need clouds and darkness to exercise our faith, to cut off self-dependence, and make us put more faith in Christ, and less in evidence, less in experience, less in frames and feelings. The best of God’s children—I repeat it again for the comfort of those who are suffering depression of spirits—have their nights … God’s people pass through the night. They have their nights of sorrow. I confess I do myself constantly …
Francois Fenelon 17th century theologian, poet, writer and church leader:
Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when he seems to abandon us. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is his pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to his gifts, but to him; and when he plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.
Augustine Baker, a 17th monk who suffered much persecution throughout his life wrote:
We must expect many changes; many risings and fallings; sometimes light, and sometimes darkness; sometimes calmness of passions, and only God knows how often these successions of changes are repeated, before the end approaches.
Therefore we must yield ourselves fully to God’s disposal and to follow Him in any ways that He will lead us … through light and darkness, through bitter and sweet.
Prayer for the Darkness
John Donne English poet and preacher who himself times of despair that led to contemplation of suicide wrote the following prayer for times of spiritual darkness. I have updated the language to make it more helpful the today’s reader:
God of Comfort, Let your merciful providence so rule in my life in this situation, that I never fall into total darkness, ignorance of you, or inconsideration of myself. Let those shadows which do fall upon me, faintness of spirit, and condemnations of myself, be overcome by the power of your irresistible light; that when those shadows have done their work upon me, to let me see, that of myself I should fall into irrecoverable darkness. May your Spirit may do his work upon those shadows, and disperse them, and establish me in so bright a day here … that the words of your Son, spoken to his apostles, may reflect upon me, Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world Amen.
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